Book Review by Dr. Catherine Tsounis of Rev. John Antonopoulos' The Community of St. Demetrios and its Place in the Church of America: 1927-2006

Title: The Community of St. Demetrios and its Place in the Church of America: 1927-2006
Author: Very Rev. John Antonopoulos
Publisher: Delta Printing, Inc.
Date of Publication: 2007
Language: Greek

A monumental work written in Greek describes the growth of the unique center of the Greek diaspora: St. Demetrios Cathedral of Astoria, New York. “The wise men and great teachers say the humble support society,” said Very Rev. John Antonopoulos. “The church community is supported by the unknown and unseen deacons.” Three hundred and fifty pages are devoted to this main thesis. Persons, deceased and presently living, are described in building the largest church and day parochial school in walking distance to their homes. This is the only Greek American community of its time. Only the Transfiguration of Christ Church, in Mattituck Long Island, built a community around a Greek Orthodox house of worship.

St. Demetrios Cathedral of Astoria, New York.

The photograph of Metropolitan Germanos Polyzoides of Constantinople, the legendary first priest, is inspiring. The author believes “many of the priests who served had unique leadership, diplomatic and excellent, administrative abilities.” His Holiness, Patriarch Athenagoras had his headquarters at the then St. Demetrios Church from 1936-39, when he served as Archbishop of North and South America. His photos and time table of the priests are accurate. He chronicles the growth of St. Catherine’s Church of Astoria under the leadership of Very Rev. John Poulos. He writes that “Sunday, May 5th 1957 will remain historic for the Hellenic Community of Astoria,” with the opening of the Community Center. An exceptional photo showing community President Dimotsis, Rev. Demetrios Frangos (formerly of Imvros) and parish council members is shown. He chronicles the building of the elementary and high School.

On p.260, the author has a photo of the Kalamaras brothers, who founded the Crystal Palace, a block from St. Demetrios Church. The Crystal Palace was the center of the political and social life of the Astoria community. Other figures and organizations mentioned are the Demetriou Family, Byzantine Choir, George Almiroudis, Christos Kossovitis, Nick Pafitis, Petros Patrides, Demetrios and Fanny Zicopoulos, Mr. Sarantakos, Nicholas Gavalas Family, the Presidents of the community such as Nicholas Andriotis, educators Constantine Parthenis, Anastasios Kourlamanis and Timoleon Kokkinos, officers of the Parents and Teachers Organization, Professor Michael Catsimatidis, first principal of St, Demetrios Day School, Demosthenis Triantafillou, first Principal of St. Demetrios High School, Mike and Helen John, the late Presvitera Catherine Antonopoulos and hundreds of others from the unseen middle class.

The author’s chronological narrative is based on primary sources. He was an eye witness to history: the turbulent 1960’s that resulted in the assimilation of the grandchildren of the 1920’s Greek immigration; the Vietnam War; the late 1960’s mass immigration from Greece with the removal of the quota system; the creation of churches, schools, societies and mass media institutions. This was a time that will never be repeated. He saw the rise of St. Catherine’s Church and St. Irene Chrysovalantou that solidified a presence of a Greek community in New York City. I was deeply moved reading and seeing the photos of the late Philoptohos President Kyrie Kafe, Rev. Demetrios Frangos, George Damanis, Gus Trefon, Gus Keene and George Douris who were my parents’ and grandparents’’ friends.

Very Rev. John Antonopoulos.

A moving memorial is dedicated to the late Presvitera Catherine, his wife, who was an immigrant from the Aegean island of Limnos. “She was a fine spouse, dedicated to her family and an aide in my ministry,” says the author on p. 275. “We had four children, Irene, Constantine, Thomas and Georgia. As a grandmother, she gave her untiring assistance in the raising of our grandchildren. Presvitera Catherine Antonopoulos was the unifying force of our family.”

Very Rev. John Antonopoulos was born in Kastanea, Nafpactos. In 1957, he graduated the Theological School of Corinth. In 1961, he immigrated to the United States. The author married Catherine Monou in 1967. He was ordained a priest by His Grace, Bishop Silas of Amphipolis on January 7, 1968. He acquired a Masters of Science degree in theology from Fordham University in 1975. Father John’s ministry at St Demetrios Cathedral is from 1967 to the present time.

When one talks to a person from St. Demetrios Cathedral, one often hears that the person was baptized by Father Antonopoulos. He is the only priest who has remained in Astoria since the 1960’s. Dedicated, trustworthy and one to be counted on to come through in a crisis are descriptive terms of his unique ministry. Now, he has the new title of writer/historian with his masterpiece. The editor is Maria Anna Kassomenakis. His humility, low key personality is unforgettable. One parishioner said “Father John Antonopoulos is Astoria.” For more information, contact Rev. John Antonopoulos at St. Demetrios Cathedral, 30-11 30th drive, Astoria, New York, (718) 728-1718.

(Posting date 15 July 2012)

Originally submitted to HCS 31 Auguust 2011. HCS readers may wish to read releases or announcements of other books in our Books section or in our extensive, permanent archives at the URL

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